(1939-09-14) Meeting the Parents
Details for Meeting the Parents
Summary: Shortly after Katie and Xander decide to start dating properly, she invites him home to formally meet her parents.
Date: 14 September 1939
Location: Second Floor Hind's Fish and Chips, Waterloo, London

Sundays are a day of rest in the Hind household, after six days of work. Although, that might be a little optimistic, since there are always things that need to be done in the flat when the family isn't in the restaurant. As the hour of two nears Katie is obsessively looking toward the back door, the entrance from the stairs in the alley outside. She's invited Xander over to meet her mother and father properly, and is a bit of a bundle of nerves. Smoothing her skirt for the twentieth time, when the bell finally dings she nearly jumps out of her skin.

"Katie, stop dithering," her mother says in a kind tone. "Your father has had his favorite tea," on purpose, thanks Mom!, "and is in good humor today. Now, take a breath, and go let your young man in." Katie turns away, and Mary can't help but smile as she goes to sit in the living room with Daniel. Her little girl isn't such any more.

Katie takes the advice, and looks around quickly to make sure everything is in order before going to open the door. The flat isn't a showplace, but it's homey. The back door opens directly into the kitchen, which is typically muggle, with an icebox, stove and a small table with four chairs around it. It's as clean and neat as the restaurant below.

When the door opens, Xander is momentarily in a panic. What if Katie's father answers to the door? He suddenly realises that he wasn't prepared for that. But blessed stars, it's his lovely Katie's face that appears before him. "H-hey. I'm not late, am I?" He's dressed down from his usual work attire, but still looking sharp in a button-down shirt and gray vest. A dark wool overcoat is spotted with gleaming beads of light rainfall. He's got a bottle under one arm, and a bouquet of roses in the other hand. But it is a single daisy that he presents to Katie.

There's a bright smile for Xander, naturally, and Katie steps back to usher him in. "Not a second," she assures him lightly. The daisy somehow manages to amp her smile up a notch, lighting up her face. "How lovely, Xander, thank yeh. Here, put yer things on the table, an' let me take yer coat t'hang by the stove. It'll dry nicely there." There are hooks there for just that reason, a couple already occupied by family coats. Once his coat is hung, she looks back to him, her eyes sweeping him from tip to toe. "Yeh look grand. So handsome." There's a lilting tease to the words, although she means them sincerely.

Xander steps in to set the items down as instructed, his eyes drifting around the Hind home as he shrugs off the coat for Katie. "Not half so much as you. Pretty, I mean. You're not handsome…you're beautiful." He grins apologetically as he fumbles through his words. "So," he whispers, gesturing ot the bottle on the table, "Is wine alright? I wanted to bring gifts. I wasn't sure what was appropriate."

Katie takes a moment to fill a glass with water and tuck the daisy into it, before her attention is back on Xander. Her voice is low as well, "They'll love it. I don't remember th'last time Mum got flowers, she'll be well pleased." Small hands come up to straighten an already perfectly straight collar, but Katie used the excuse to get Xander to bend a little, and before he can straighten she touches a light kiss to his cheek. "Mum already likes yeh, and Da doesn't like any young men, so yer no worse off there. Ready t'go in then?" Her eyes sparkle as she smiles up at the tall wizard.

"He…doesn't?" Xander's already fragile confidence begins to waver. Jack. Where's Jack. Jack likes him…doesn't he? Get it together, Xander! He takes a deep breath, focusing on the lingering feeling of that kiss to his cheek to find a little courage. "Alright, let's do it." He picks up the bouquet and wine, and readies himself to face the gauntlet.

There's a soft giggle as the consternation flashes on Xander's face, and Katie gives his arm a reassuring squeeze. "I like yeh, that's what matters. Da just doesn't know yeh, and doesn't like the thought of his girl growin' up." Jack is nowhere to be seen, even as the pair go out into the living room, but it's likely he's around somewhere, watching the introductions go down. She's a step ahead of him as they leave the kitchen and walk into the other room.

It's small, cozy and feeling of family, with pictures on the walls, and crochet doilies covering the arms of the chairs and sofa. Each elder Hind has their own chair, looking rather Goldilocks with a big armchair for Daniel and a smaller but comfy looking chair for Mary. The children obviously get to share the sofa. Mary looks up expectantly, Daniel has his nose buried in the paper as the two come in, and he doesn't lower it until Katie speaks. "Mum… Da… Xander's come t'meet yeh."

Both parents stand, their attention focusing on the young man. Mary has a ready smile and speaks softly, like her daughter. "Xander, we've heard so much about you, welcome." Daniel gives Xander an obvious once-over, his voice a bit gruff as he says, "Young man."

Xander swallows hard, doing his best not to show how intimidated he is by Daniel. He gives his trademark lopsided smile, dipping his head in greeting as he presents the roses to the lady of the house. "Mrs. Hind, these are for you." Steeling himself, he approaches Daniel and presents the bottle. "Sir, I…I had to guess. I hope you're fond of red wine." He steals a glance back at Katie, looking for some kind of reassurance that he isn't completely ruining everything.

Katie's eyes are on Xander, and when she catches his glance she gives a brief bob of her head, encouraging him. Mary accepts the roses, cooing over them appreciatively, "That's very thoughtful of you, Xander, thank you." In the next moment she's off to get a vase saying how lovely they'll look on the coffee table. Daniel doesn't step forward, but lets Xander come toward him, a little bit of a power play.

The elder Hind takes the bottle with his left hand, giving it a cursory glance, but he looks perhaps a little impressed with such good manners. His hand goes out, offered to Xander, and his grip is a little bit on the firm side, but he doesn't crack any bones. "Tully. I'm fond of red wine, yes." He waves vaguely toward the sofa as he settles back into his chair, giving the wine's label a better study before he sets it aside, "Sit." Katie gives Xander's sleeve a light pluck as she slips past him, moving to sit a respectful distance from Xander, but not too far. Daniel watches the pair as they settle.

Xander's smile grows at the handshake, taking it as a sign of approval — or at least a foot in the door. He spins when he feels the pluck, and finds his way to the couch to sit by Katie, this time letting her choose the distance so he doesn't have a repeat antsy-pants performance. "So…ah…I've become a regular at the chippy shop. Your family's food is fantastic." He directs his words mainly to Daniel, but is sure to make eye contact with Mary and Katie as well.

Good opening gambit! Daniel is quite proud of the chippy, and he actually sort of smiles at Xander's words. "I've seen you in fairly often," he says, letting the young suitor know that not much happens in his shop that Daniel isn't aware of. Mary, arranging the roses just so before she regains her seat, adds brightly, "And Jack speaks highly of you as well."

"Xander learned some signs, t'be able t'talk t'Jack some," Katie chimes in, making sure that his efforts are noted by the parents. Daniel has no comment for this, but he looks thoughtful, and Mary notes with a smile, "So I've seen. Our Katie tells us you work at a Ministry that's fairly nearby. Have you been there long?" Being the more talkative of the two, it's natural that Mary asks the question, but Daniel has a definite interest in the answer. He wants to know who his daughter is stepping out with.

Xander smiles proudly at the mention of him learning sign, and adds a confirming "nod" of his hand. He perks at Mary's question, and his mind races back to the answers he's rehearsed, having anticipated this line of questioning. "Ah, yes, that's right. I've only been there a short time, actually. I started my post there back in July, after finishing my education."

There's a lifting of Mary's brows, interest in her eyes at Xander's response. "Not that long before you came in and met our Katie then. What school did you attend?" Her accent is much lighter than Katie's, suggesting she perhaps came from another part of London, because it is still very much London that can be heard in her voice. It's hard to tell Daniel's accent, as little as he speaks. He glances to his paper, set aside for introductions, but was cautioned by Mary not to be hiding behind it. He's keen to listen, but is a man of few words. His wife makes up for that. "Our Katie went to the nearby schools, Waterloo Secondary and Primary. She could have gone for her A Levels, she's a smart one." "Mum.." Katie says, blushing lightly and that tone of 'you're embarrassing me' in the simple word.

Xander nods his agreement with Daniel. "No doubt. Katie's as sharp as they come." He gives her a smile, insisting, "You are. I love our conversations." He gives Mary is more direct attention to address her question. "It's a boarding school," true, "up north," also true, "called Trufflage," and there's the lie. Now to see if it sticks. It's one of many names the Ministry of Magic uses when lying to unvetted Muggle parents about where their magical children are attending.

Katie has to resist the desire to reach over and take Xander's hand, but his compliment to her has gotten a mark of approval from Mary. Her head tilts as Xander identifies his school, a gesture that Katie often employs herself. "Trufflage," Mary says, musing on the name. "It's a rather odd name. But it seems they did a fine job with you, Xander. And what do you do for the Ministry?" She might have already heard this from Katie, but she wants the young man to speak up for himself.

The hardest question of all, but Xander is ready for it. He swallows and says, "I do scientific research. It's…um…well, it can sound a bit grim, I want to warn you. But I assure you it's very important work. Thanatology. I…ah…study the nature of…death." He feels a lump forming in his throat. He's never had an especially difficult time talking about this before. He's known for a long time that it makes others uncomfortable, but he always just accepted that he'd be looked at strangely. But this time it matters more. This time he wants to be accepted.

It may be a surprise to everyone when Daniel's voice enters the conversation. "The nature of death? To what end?" From the simple questions it's hard to tell his emotional reaction to this, and there's been no visible change. Katie, of course, knows and hasn't thought it odd, not with the circumstance with his brother and all. Mary looks interested in the forthcoming answer, but lets the men address each other. Daniel's eyes have settled on Xander fully.

Xander gives Katie a slightly nervous glance before explaining. "Well, there are many applications for our research. There is medical use. The more we understand the mechanisms of death, the better we can learn to counter them for the preservation of life. Also, understanding how bodies behave after death helps those in the archaeological field when they come across ancient remains. There are even applications developing that will aid in criminal investigations." He feels a pang of shame at his own deception. Everything he says is true, but the reality is that thanatology is his hobby, while his actual profession deals more with the ethereal remains of the dead than the physical.

Again, there's that encouraging slight nod from Katie, any nerves she had long gone. Daniel bends one arm as he listens, his eyes intently on the young man, and with his elbow on the armrest of his chair his hand comes to rest at his chin, index finger extended over his lips. His eyes flicker away from Xander somewhere in the middle of the answer, briefly settling on Katie. Her attention is raptly on Xander, and it's clear that she's delighted with him. It almost makes Daniel smile to see her looking so happy. Before that can happen he cuts his eyes back to Xander, and when the young man finishes, there's a pause in the conversation. "Important indeed," he finally says in his rough voice. Then he does a dad move. "And that pays a living wage?"

Xander snaps to attention, feeling the knife-point of that very important question. "Yes, sir!" he insists a little too enthusiastically. "That is, I'm well paid for my work, and as a government job, it has a great deal of security. Not to mention room for advancement. If I distinguish my self in this position, I could attract the attention of a department that deals with top secret research. It would be a tremendous opportunity, sir."

'Well paid' and 'security' were the words Daniel had hoped to hear. Granted, the pair have just started seeing each other, but he would have something to say about his daughter wasting her time with a layabout. Now, what he has to say is simply, "Good." with a nod of his head. And there's a tacit approval that has Katie letting out a breath she'd been holding. His eyes turn back to his daughter, and he addresses her. "Katie, go and fetch a couple quid from the jar and take your young man down the pub. On me." 'The jar' would be a swear jar that he is obliged to drop some change into whenever he slips. Which is not infrequently. Katie is on her feet at once, ready to go to the kitchen, when Daniel adds, "And take him with you." He's learned enough for the first visit, and wants to relax now that the initiative has been taken and contact made. "Stop up when you come back," Mary adds, "I've a trifle for tea."

Xander needs a moment to catch up to what just happened. Was that approval? That sounded like approval! He rises to his feet to follow Katie, pausing to off his hand to Daniel. "Mr. Hind, sir, it was a pleasure…an honour. It was an honour and a pleasure, sir. Mrs. Hind, thank you so much." For hosting this little meeting? For bringing Katie into the world? Probably all of the above. Pleasantries handled, he hurries after Katie.

Daniel shakes Xander's hand again, saying gruffy, "Tully." He then immediately picks up his paper, rustling it as he opens it and disappears behind it. Mary nods to the youngsters, "Don't be late for tea." She looks pleased, and picks up her knitting from the floor beside her chair. "Ta, Mum," Katie says. "Da?" When he lowers his paper enough to see her, Katie flashes him the sign for I love you. His smile is hidden, but it crinkles his eyes, "Aye, Bug."

When she turns to lead them out, Katie reaches back for Xander's hand, and once they're in the kitchen she spins to face him. "He likes yeh," she says excitedly, delighted.

Xander's heart leaps, and an enormous smile overtakes him. "Does he? I thought it went well. So it went well?" He squeezes her hand, and impulsively lifts it for a light kiss, only panicking after the fact for fear that he might still be in Daniel's line of sight. He decides it's better not to look and find out. "So, to the pub, then?"

The warm press of Xander's lips, even so briefly to her hand, makes Katie's stomach flutter, and she bites her lip. There's a quick nod, and she agrees, "To the pub." She lets go of his hand to reach for his overcoat and hand it to him, then reaches for her own. "It went well," she finally says, grinning up at him.

Xander gives an ecstatic little hop in place as he pulls his coat on. "I'll be honest with you. I was terrified that I'd make a fool of myself and they would forbid you from seeing me." He opens the door for Katie, awaiting her exit first.

Katie skips down the stairs and waits for Xander at the bottom, talking over her shoulder. "Yeh did great. Brilliant. An' all yeh had t'do is be yerself." She stops at the bottom and turns, the quick movement flaring her unbuttoned coat and her red hair. The drizzle has stopped, for the moment, but it's left the world all washed clean and shiny.

Xander laughs at Katie's energetic movement. As he descends the stairs, he gazes in awe, counting his blessings that this amazing girl seems to actually like him. Again, that pang of guilt over keeping secrets hits him, momentarily causing his smile to falter, but he pushes it aside as he takes the last step and offers his arm to her. "I like them, too. You Hinds are good people. Where's Jack, anyhow?"

Katie doesn't just accept the offered arm, she hugs it, pressing closely to Xander as they start their walk. She pulls away as he asks after Jack, tilting her head back to look up at the second floor windows. Her free hand comes up and she points, to where her brother is framed in a windowpane. "There he is. He was likely somewhere reading lips." That would have given him at least an idea, as well as their postures and expressions. Jack smiles down at the pair and gives a thumbs up.

"Sneaky," Xander chuckles, giving Jack a wave. As they continue, he subtly tugs his arm in to encourage her to resume hugging it. He quite enjoys having her so close. "So, I wasn't totally clear. Do they want me back for tea after? Or was that just directed at you?"

It only takes that little movement to have Katie snugged back up against Xander as they walk. Close enough that her cheek brushes the sleeve of his overcoat and from then on the smell of slightly damp wool will always make her think of Xander. "Yer invited, if yeh can stay, but I told Mum before yeh came that I didn't know how long yeh could." Apparently her mother, at least, was fully prepared to give Xander every benefit of the doubt.

Xander shrugs, leaning just slightly into her, a reciprocation of that desire to be close. "I can stay as long as I'm welcome. I just don't want to overstay it. Promise me you'll clue me in if I start to. I really like your family. I don't want to blow anything." An army lorry drives by, soldiers piled into the back with various crates of equipment. It's a sight that is becoming all too common on the streets of London.

There's a quick squeeze to Xander's arm, Katie's grin can be heard in her voice, "Promise. I want them t'like yeh as well." The transport of soldiers tempers her grin, and she watches the lorry until it trundles around a corner a few blocks away. She doesn't speak up immediately, but after a few steps she ventures, "They're callin' up lads t'serve." There's another pause. "Are yeh gonna have t'go?"

Xander takes a long, slow breath, wrestling internally. "Believe it or not, my job is considered essential, so I don't have to. Still…I wonder if I should. This is my home, too. It bothers me that other people are going to fight and die to protect it for me."

Katie frowns lightly. She certainly doesn't want Xander to be among the ranks of those fighting and dying in the war, but a part of her can understand. It's why she's doing things around the city, why her father is an air raid warden. And that prompts her to say, "If yer job is important enough that yeh won't get shipped off, then it must be pretty important. An' there's other things yeh could do. Da's an air raid warden, an' they always accept volunteers."

Xander's mood has turned somber with the topic of war, and his place in it. "My job…I hate to say it, but it's going to become more important later. After…people start dying." Perhaps not in the way Katie might imagine, but it remains true. Relocating the ghosts of dead wizards to maintain Secrecy during this chaotic time will be vital. Secrecy. Some want to be rid of it. Could they be right? Aren't there more important things right now? He looks to Katie, and burns, aches to tell her the truth. Be he doesn't dare. "You're right. I'm sure I could volunteer during my off hours."

Katie can feel the shift in mood, but sometimes serious things must be discussed. She rubs the arm she's clinging to, her voice gentle. "We c'n take what comes as it comes. A man's only got so many hours in th'day, an' if yer work calls yeh answer. There are a lot of things that are important, even keepin' a chippy open for folks t'come out an' forget about rations for just a bit." Now, that's enough serious for right now. His arm gets another squeeze and her voice lightens, "Tomorrow is tomorrow. Right now, I'm goin' t'the pub with my man. That's all I want t'think about for now."

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